Spring Green Veggie Pasta

greenpenne1On my last night in San Fran I tried to cook up all the wonderful veggies we had picked up at the Ferry Building farmer’s market.  I had planned on a spring veggie risotto, maybe with some Niman Ranch bacon (which  makes any dish wonderful), but it was a crazy day of running around, meeting at friend for lunch at the Beach Chalet, doing laundry, hanging prints, catching up on email… essentially, I did not get out to the store, so I had to cobble a meal together out of what was in Christina’s pantry.  She had some Whole Wheat Penne from Trader Joe’s in the pantry, so I decided to simply chop up a whole bunch o’ green veggies, saute’ them in olive oil & butter, and toss them with pasta.

I’ve never cooked with fresh fava beans before; maybe I’ve never known what they were, or maybe they just don’t grow well out East, but it hasn’t happened.  They do have a pretty short season, so I guess I could’ve missed them the last few years.  I was a little daunted by all the various descriptions of what a pain in the butt they are;  with all the moaning over the “double-shuck” you’d think no one would ever attempt using fresh favas.  My theory is that foodies are just trying to keep this secret to themselves – fresh favas are quite delicious, brilliantly, gorgeously green, and really, not all that hard to shuck. They are buttery and flavorful and infused the simple olive oil-butter sauce with a wonderful flavor.  I have to say I’m sold.  Christina also gave them a big thumb’s up.

I have to thank sous chef extraordinaire, Christina, for helping me with the “double-shuck,” washing greens, chopping, and keeping my wine glass filled with a truly excellent Cakebread cabernet. Mmmmmm, Cakebread.

For a step-by-step description of shucking fresh fava beans, try the Fava Bean Dip recipe at Elise.com.


Spring Green Veggie Pasta


  • 2 green onions, white & green parts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb asparagus, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cups fresh shelled fava beans (from about 1.5 lb fava pods)


    Chop, chop, chopping...

  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and strings pulled
  • about 2 cups spicy spring greens (dandelion, spinach, wild arugula, baby chard), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • about 20 fresh lemon verbena leaves
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb whole wheat penne
  • 3-4 tbsp Stonehouse olive oil
  • 2 tbsp local Jersey butter
  • 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated hard cheese, parmesean, Barat or Ouray


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Shuck the fava beans by snapping off one end, or snapping them in half, and splitting the pod along the seam to remove the beans.  Add the beans to the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Strain into a colander then plunge into an ice water bath to stop the beans from cooking.
  2. Once the beans have fully cooled, remove the outer capsule from the bright green fava bean.  I found that most capsules slid right off, but if not, tear a small hole in one end and then squeeze the bean out.

    Fresh favas; the bright green have already been 'double-shucked,' while the yellow is the little capsule that needs to be removed after cooking.

    Fresh favas; the bright green have already been 'double-shucked,' while the yellow is the little capsule that needs to be removed after cooking.

  3. While removing the beans from their second skin, put another large pot of salted water on to boil. Boil the pasta until al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cool water to stop cooking.
  4. Heat 3-4 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet for 2-3 minutes, until shimmering, but not smoking.  Add garlic and green onion; saute for about 3 minutes. Add thicker asparagus ends and spicy greens; saute another 3-4 minutes.  Add asparagus tips, sugar snap peas, tarragon and lemon verbena; saute another 3 minutes or so.  Add drained pasta; stir well until heated through.  Taste, add salt and pepper, more olive oil or butter if needed, and adjust tarragon and/or lemon verbena as needed.  Sample an asparagus tip or sugar snap pea; it should be tender/crisp – heated through, and coated in flavori-infused olive oil/butter sauce, but just barely crisp enough to snap.
  5. Transfer the pasta to a large serving dish or bowl.  Spoon out individual servings and top with grated cheese.

Yields 4-6 servings.


  1. This dish is beautifully green; while you might be tempted to add some red bell pepper, radish or carrot for color, I think the variety of different greens are gorgeous all by themselves. Any other green spring veggie could be added, as well as any combination of herbs.  Fresh peas from the pod would be especially nice, and I think thyme would work just as well as tarragon.
  2. The dish is quite light, refreshingly so, but if you are looking for a heartier meal, add some sauteed or grilled chicken breast.  A lemon-marinated chicken would be perfect.herbs1


Up to one week in the refrigerator (hopefully, as Christina has lots of leftovers!).




  1. spamwise

    A couple of comments…

    * Fava beans are available from March through early to mid-July and may be available at farmers’ markets in the NYC-metropolitan area.

    * Fava greens are the latest offering at USGM here in NYC. My understanding is that they’ve also been sold at Ferry Plaza and a few other markets in the SF Bay Area for a number of years. They’re the hottest “in” ingredient in Bay Area restaurants, if you follow that sort of thing.

  2. localkitchen

    Yes, they did have fava greens at the Ferry Plaza market and we also saw them on the menu somewhere – Slanted Door, maybe? Ramblas? Can’t remember, but I remember thinking “Must be the latest craze.”

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